5 Natural Ways to Mosquito-Proof Your Yard
Keep pests at bay and stay bite-free with these easy tips and DIY projects — no chemicals required.
Last year was my first year as a homeowner, and my first year dealing with a mosquito-infested yard. Admittedly, I did little to deter them, but they were everywhere, waiting to strike every time I stepped outside. Mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance; they can also carry dangerous diseases like the West Nile virus and the Zika virus. This year, I'm determined to get my mosquito problem under control, but I'm reluctant to douse my yard (or myself) with chemicals. If you, too, want to prevent mosquitoes the safe and natural way, try these simple tips and DIY projects.
Banish Standing Water
The best way to keep mosquitoes at bay is to eliminate their breeding sites. Check your entire property for standing water, paying particular attention to places where it's prone to collect: clogged gutters, pet bowls, kiddie pools, watering cans, tarps, trays underneath potted plants. Keep your lawn mowed and weeds under control to prevent water from pooling in foliage.
If you have a birdbath or pond in your yard, consider treating it with Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. This naturally occurring bacterium kills mosquito larvae but isn't harmful to humans or animals. Pick some up at your local garden center.
Hang a Bat House
Thin out the mosquito population by inviting their predators, such as bats, dragonflies and swallows, into your yard. With just one bat house, you can host up to 50 brown bats, who can eat thousands of mosquitoes each night. Buy one at a home improvement store, or make your own.
Make This: How to Build a Bat House
Buy or DIY Citronella Candles
Citronella candles can be effective at keeping mosquitoes away, but only if they're the real deal; some store-bought candles merely contain a synthetic citronella scent rather than the essential oil. With just a few supplies, you can make an army of these homemade citronella candles. Light them around the perimeter of your outdoor living spaces to create a mosquito-free zone.
Make This: DIY Citronella Candles
Blow Them Away
If you can't enjoy a pleasant evening on the porch without being eaten alive, just turn the fan on (or install one if needed). Mosquitoes are fairly weak fliers, so they'll avoid your outdoor living spaces if there's a breeze.
Repel Them With Plants
Certain plants and herbs, such as marigolds, lavender, lemon balm and basil, are said to have mosquito-repellent properties. However, opinions are mixed on whether simply having these plants in your yard is enough to ward off the pesky critters. For a more potent solution, make these herbal bundles and toss them on the fire or BBQ during your next outdoor get-together.
Make This: Herbal Mosquito Bundles
If all else fails and you find yourself with itchy, painful bites, soothe them with these 12 remedies.
Beneficial insects come in many shapes and sizes, but their numbers can be curtailed by misguided pesticide applications or as a result of inaccurate identification. Many are essential pollinators while others are predators feeding on plant pests and other invertebrate animals. These include ladybugs, some hoverfly larvae, and lacewing larvae, while ground beetles feed on a wide range of soil-dwelling pests.
This is the use of nature’s own armory of predators, parasites, and pathogens to control pests. They are of most use where they can be released into a protected environment, such as a greenhouse. Some nematodes, as used to control slugs and vine weevil, can also be used outdoors, but only when soil temperatures are at or above 41 degrees F. Accurate and early identification is essential to ensure the correct control is used and at the right time of year. If in any doubt, seek advice. In some cases, chemical control may be the only option when you have an infestation, but only apply according to the instructions, especially when spraying edible crops. Be aware that the use of insecticides is likely to kill biological controls and beneficial insects.
Barriers are a very useful way of preventing pests from getting to your prized herbs, let alone damaging them. Most are designed to counteract the pest by being uncomfortable to cross or impossible to jump or climb over. Copper tape supposedly gives slugs a small but harmless electric shock, while bands of vaseline or grease make movement difficult for slimy creatures. Take care to remove fallen vegetation as this can create a bridge that will soon be discovered and exploited to the full. Sharp sands, gravels, and ground-up eggshells are used relatively successfully to restrict snail damage. Used on their own, each provides a modicum of protection, but if used in conjunction with biological control and considered use of slug pellets, any damage will be minimal.